To kick things off, tell us a bit about your background.
Ok. I am originally from Newcastle (UK) and have been living in Melbourne for four years, after various stints living in Belgium, UK, Switzerland and the USA. It kind of goes without saying, that I am a keen runner, but I am also a Level 2 Recreational Running Coach, accredited by Athletics Australia, and also a triathlon coach.
I haven't always been this active. I remember as a grumpy, moody teenager I had a few spare kilos on me and loved my video games and chocolate. I used to steal my sisters' chocolate all of the time as I ate mine so quickly! I did play a few team sports when I was younger but then turned to running in my mid 20's to help keep fit, keep the beers in check and as something I enjoyed doing with my dad. My dad ran the London marathon five times and still smashes out the odd 2 hour half marathon when he is not falling off his mountain bike! I guess he and his training pals inspired me to start running and keep running. The great thing is, they haven't stopped running!
I think my first ever proper, organised run, that I signed up for and got a medal, was the annual Brussels 20km run. I finished that in well over 2 hours, which I remember being really pleased with. I remember borrowing my dads watch, wearing a baggy cotton t-shirt and Newcastle United soccer shorts. In my first triathlon, I rode a mountain bike and we swam 16 lengths in a 25 metre indoor pool.
Aah, those were the days!
How would you describe your coaching style?
I am a pretty energetic, enthusiastic person so I like to bring those qualities to my sessions and my monthly plans. I also think that communicating well and building trust are two of my most important roles, so I try to make sure that I build personal rapport with each of my runners and remain approachable and listen lots! I want my runners to know that I am committed to their goals and training as much as they are. I also practice what I preach with my own running, which I think can be quite powerful.
What type of runners do you coach?
I coach mostly beginner runners, as that is where I think I can make the most difference. Remember coaching isn’t only for super-duper Olympic athletes. We can all benefit from tips, advice, structure, encouragement and support in our training and racing. In fact, even coaches have coaches! I have an awesome triathlon coach and continue to learn from him each and every week.
There are all sorts of runners out there and I coach people as individuals not as a ‘type.’ But if I have to be more general, I coach people who are willing to learn, are enthusiastic, want to improve, and are not averse to a bit of laughter along the way, no matter what their running aim is.
How about your own running? What would you say are your major achievements?
Tough one! I think running 2 hours 58 minutes in Melbourne Marathon 2015 and 3 hours for Boston Marathon have to be near the top of the list but I don’t think you ever forget finishing your first marathon. Mine was in Helsinki of all places and there were four of us who trained together and all managed to complete the event. I finished in 3 hours 39, which was 3 minutes quicker than my dad’s best time. Not that I am competitive…
I am also a relatively recent convert to triathlon and did the Melbourne Ironman in 10 hours 47 this year. It was so much hard work to even get to the start line. I definitely valued having a coach to get me through the planning, training and tough times! More recently, I also recently ran a personal best in the Gold Coast Half Marathon (1:21:07), which I was really proud of.
Why did you start GoRun?
I have been a frustrated, injured, beginner runner and it sucks. I have also experienced and seen first hand the value that coaching can bring in life, in business and in sporting terms. So I wanted to coach beginners so that they can avoid the mistakes that I made. I also think that support from someone that you trust can be extremely powerful and encourage improvements beyond what you thought was possible. I want to build that type of trust with my beginner runners and give that type of support to them. I now coach runners training for 5km, 10km, half marathon, marathon and ultra marathon distances. All of them are very different and inspiring in their own way. Why would you not want to be around that!? Running has also given me so much, whether it is new friends, amazing achievements, stress relief and shared memories. I want to enable others to experience these types of things in their own way.
What are the most common questions you get asked?
I have actually done a fair bit of research on this! Answering questions is a big part of the job! The list below isn't in any particular order, but they are all great and perfectly normal questions to ask. Feel free to ask me one, when you see me next!
- Im not a runner. How do I start running?
- Am I going to be your worst client?
- What does a running plan look like?
- Do I only need to run, in order to get better at running?
- How do I get better results without getting injured?
- How do I actually enjoy running?
- How do I stick to my training?
- Surely I need a certain level of fitness before going to a running coach?
- How do I get into running without spending a fortune on clothes, shoes and watches?
- How do I get the most out of a coach?
- How do I stop stressing myself out when I run?
- Can I make friends through running?
- How do I make time for running?
- How do I know that event is right for me?
- Where can I run without worrying about what people think?
- How can I look and feel good when I run?
What are some of your favourite runs?
I have run 6 very different marathons and over 20 half marathons as well as shorter races and trail runs, so it is tough to choose! What I can say though, is that in Melbourne, we are truly spoilt for choice. There are so many amazing runs, which can take you all over the place. Some of the trail runs such as Two Bays on the Mornington Peninsula are amazing experiences and very different to road running, so I would highly recommend them. The Sri Chinmoy events are also great (especially for the free pancakes afterwards!) and I am a big fan of parkrun, which has exploded onto the scene in Australia over the past couple of years.
What is the most difficult part of your job?
Getting people to slow down! We live in a society that rushes constantly and that has come into recreational sport as well. We are impatient to get results and tend to try and run before we can walk (excuse the pun!). The frustrating part is that I have learned the hard way through injury, that rushing and constantly pushing hard, doesn’t work as well as consistent, balanced training over time.